The route may have changed for Natrell Curtis, but the goal remains the same.
The mercurial Curtis won’t be Oklahoma attending as the recent Mountain Pointe graduate had expected as he officially signed with Pima Community College last week.
“This just made me stronger and hungrier,” he said via Twitter. “All senior year I was looking for that motivation, that push and I got it.”
Sometimes it takes a slap in the face to snap someone back to reality.
Curtis clearly has the talent to be a Division I recruit. No one is denying that. He and everyone knows he should be playing somewhere like Oklahoma or Washington, where he originally verbally committed.
It’s just the 6-foot-4, 340-pound lineman hasn’t had a lot go his way other than helping the Pride win the Division I state championship.
He had an ankle injury that slowed him last summer and led to a bad showing at a national camp in Chicago. He gained too much weight in the offseason. It continued on during the season, which also included an elbow injury, when he wore a different jersey depending on where his weight was at each Friday night.
Then there was also the off-field stuff that included the recruiting process, changing schools and watching his son being born during the Pride’s bye week.
It may have left him distracted at times and frustrated the coaching staff. Curtis still played at a high level, just not as consistent as years past.
He was still dominant – just ask the Bishop Gorman defensive player who may still be back pedaling or Hamilton’s Qualen Cunningham who was sealed off when Curtis pulled to free Paul Lucas for a 56-yard touchdown for a 35-13 lead – at times.
That hungry player is still there. It was clear when he played both ways in the semifinals to help keep the Desert Ridge running game in check.
And he still wants to eat as he likes to say.
Now that his destination has changed this fall, Curtis knows things have to change. And he plans on finding his way back to a big-time campus in the years to come.
“I went through so much,” he said. “And to be honest it was tough for me. But this is Gods lesson and blessing to me. This is his plans for me. I'm going to be a whole different player and man.
“You will see.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.